Tag Archives: Andrew Rice

Will Democrats Enact Tough Ethics Reform, Or Prove They Don’t Get It?

It’s been more than 7 months since voters took control of Congress away from corrupt Republicans, and more than 5 months since Democrats took over  – and still we are waiting for real ethics reform to improve accountability in Congress.  We at 21st Century Democrats ask, “are there enough reform-minded Democrats with strong leadership to convince the foot-draggers that the party will be over if they don’t enact real ethics reform?”  Sadly, the answer may not be what we want to hear.

The House leadership started off on the right foot in January by enacting rules restricting meals, travel and gifts from lobbyists, but some of the strongest measures, like requiring lobbyists to publicly disclose when they bundle campaign contributions for federal candidates, were passed over due to the resistance of some Members who don’t get it.

This is why 21st Century Democrats stopped supporting just any old back-bench Democrats and decided to focus on finding real progressive Democrats who will be leaders within the party.  The fundamental principle of our approach is that we need more leadership within the Democratic Party to actually make substantial changes in the direction of public policy.

Electing a Democratic majority is not an end in itself – it is the means to the end we seek:  an accountable government that responds to the people who demand a change in direction.  That’s why our group – which is not an arm of the Democratic Party, but an independent progressive political organization – has as its mission to catalyze massive change in policy by finding and electing visionary progressive Democrats.

We look to find broadly progressive candidates who demonstrate real potential for leadership and help them get elected.  We don’t require candidates to pass litmus tests on hot button issues.  We do ask candidates what their vision for America is what their bold ideas to achieve that vision are.  We have only 7 questions and they are different than any PAC questionnaire you have ever seen.

While we remain committed to electing progressive Democrats, we care more about a candidate’s ability to lead, and a willingness to stand by their convictions.  Majorities matter, but without true leadership within those majorities, true change is simply not possible.  We’re working to develop and empower the next generation of visionary progressive leaders. If you have a favorite candidate who you think has what it takes to move America forward, tell them to check out our endorsement application.

We’ve been searching the nation for candidates to endorse in our first round of endorsements. So far we’ve asked for help from bloggers in Ohio, Michigan, Florida, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Texas, Alabama, Massachusetts, Washington, and Illinois. And we’re continuing to reach out to more and more state blogs.  We endorse candidates for all levels of government and from all states – great leaders like Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, and State Senator Andrew Rice from Oklahoma.

We don’t just pass out checks to candidates – we train and place grassroots field organizers into campaigns to do the hard work of door-door, person to person campaigning.  We take the vision of the candidate to the voter – a winning formula – in 2006, we won 72% of the competitive races we played a role in.

We want to harness the power of the netroots to the power of traditional field organizing.  We’re convinced this will be a winning combination to elect progressives who will be leaders inside the Democratic caucus.  The fight over ethics reform is a perfect example of why we need leaders inside our party’s caucuses.  Voters voted for change in the last election and we all know that a government dominated by special interests is incapable of enacting a true progressive agenda.  Unfortunately, some in our party have decided that protecting lobbyists is more important than standing for integrity in our elections.

This is a critical time in this fight, and a critical fight within our party.  Speaker Pelosi, to her credit, is trying to do the right thing.  Let’s get her the help she needs before it’s too late and voters lump us with the crew they threw out last year.  Please take a moment to send a note to your Member of Congress.